The industry’s comeback after the Great Recession has set new records for development and rent growth, but it appears some development markets are finally moderating. The past year saw 337,000 units arrive to the market, on top of the 267,000 units delivered in 2015. For the coming year, things will temper (even if just a bit) with an expected 272,000 deliveries, according to MPF Research, the analytics arm of RealPage.
A more stringent construction debt market will also curb the delivery of new apartments into the future. John Gray is head of investments for Lennar Multifamily Communities (LMC), which started 4,565 units in 2015 ranking fifth on the NMHC’s list of largest apartment builders, says its production will drop 30% to 35% in the next year. And, he expects other major apartment builders to see similar decreases. “Everybody is anticipating starting between 50% to 65% as many units in 2017 as they did in 2016,” he says.
But, for now, the markets that have been delivering apartments remain busy. The typical culprits for largest volume of deliveries continue to top the list, including New York, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles. As Greg Willett points out, there’s a notable absence of markets many expect to be on the list, such as San Francisco and San Jose.
“While some think of them as significant construction centers, that perception really reflects that building is more aggressive than is normal by Bay Area standards. They aren’t adding all that much product compared to building in the most active spots,” he says.
Dallas will see the largest volume of new apartments in any metro next year with 23,370 units.
Dallas has been a poster child of economic growth this cycle. The Texas metro saw a job growth rate nearly double both the state and national levels between March 2015 and March 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The area is largely benefitting from multinational companies, like Toyota, JP Morgan, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and Raytheon, relocating national and regional headquarters to Texas for low tax rates.
While Dallas is the top market by volume of deliveries, it falls to sixth on the list of markets ranked by growth rate. Smaller markets are seeing the highest growth rates. Nashville, Tenn. rises to the top as it’s expected to see a 6.5% growth in inventory in 2017. According to Nashville’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, the metro is anticipating a 16% population growth over the next 10 years.
Charlotte, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; and Des Moines, Iowa are also each anticipating a growth rate over 5%.
“Their inclusion on the list points to a jump in activity across some areas where there was minimal activity earlier in the cycle, although Charleston actually is a small market that came out of the gate very quickly in this cycle,” Willett says.
For the top markets by volume of deliveries, Orange County hangs onto its spot by a slim margin. Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Miami, Nashville, and Phoenix could all edge it out depending on how many buildings are actually started this year and how many of those projects experience delays, which proves common in this cycle, says Willett. Also notable is the absence of Florida markets, considering Orlando and Tampa are experiencing some of the country’s strongest job growth.
This level of supply will assuage the record-breaking rent growth seen in the last few years. Rents increased by 4.6% in 2015, and were forecasted to rise another 3.4% in the past year. This year the annual effective rent growth is expected to dip to 2.1%, according to Axiometrics. The supply is likely squashing property managers’ abilities to push rents up, but that rent growth rate is right on par with the long-term average of 2.2%. As development has decreased in 2017, and is expected to do so again in 2018, rent growth could see two strong years ahead in 2018 and 2019, if economic growth continues.
“Apartment demand is solid relative to moderating increasing deliveries, with occupancy still in terrific shape,” says Willett. “Thus, we think operators are over-reacting to a not-that-big bump in deliveries and a leasing environment that’s only a little more competitive than it was previously.”